Small Claims Strategy For Copyright Infringement Launched In UK

Posted on 10/9/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The Patents County Court (PCC) system in the UK has revised its intellectual property laws for England and Wales and simplified the procedure for claims valued at £5,000 or less. Copyright holders will have the option of sorting out disputes through an informal hearing without legal representation. The government plans to increase this limit to £10,000, although when this will happen is currently unclear.

In the UK, registration is not required as long as the claimant can prove ownership of the copyright through some means. It is expected that claims will now be processed quicker. Businesses are able to write directly to judges setting out their case.

Business minister Michael Fallon said, “Lower legal costs will make it easier for entrepreneurs to protect their creative ideas where they had previously struggled to access justice in what could often be an expensive progress. A smarter and cheaper process is good for business and helping businesses make the most of their intellectual property is good for the economy.”

For more about how it will work check out
Small claims legislation has been working its way through the U.S. Congress for some time, but seems to be getting nowhere. The UK action will give the U.S. government a chance to see how this approach works. Everyone will be anxiously awaiting reports of initial infringement cases filed in the UK. What will the awards be like? How quickly will the cases be settled? What will be the cost to pursue the claim  in terms of photographer time, as well as money? Will people be less likely to infringe now that it has become much easier to file a claim against them?

In reviewing the new rules Mark Masnick said in TechDirt, “All it really does is make it easier for there to be more copyright lawsuits, though with limited benefits for those who file. It seems like the kind of system that's going to see a lot of attempted abuse. We already see so much abuse of the existing copyright system, so are we sure it's a good idea to make it even easier for some to file lawsuits -- even with the limited punishment?”

Hopefully, the UK experience will point the way for the U.S. Congress to establish a system that will enable photographers to better protect their copyrights.

Copyright © 2012 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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